Skip to content

Agribusiness News September 2023 – Management Matters: Decision Grade Data from Nature Tech

1 September 2023

What is nature tech?

Nature tech are digital technologies and tools that help us protect and restore our natural environment. Nature tech promises to help investments in nature-based solutions projects be easier to justify, by providing better clarity about their impact over time and by helping make them even more cost-effective.

Satellite rainforest monitoring and remote sensing drones are trusted technologies. Whilst remote and satellite sensing can help with some aspects of measuring, reporting and verifying of the state of nature, biodiversity is location-specific. So the state of environmental and ecosystem assets must be assessed in up-close, local context.

Nature tech is a cost-effective way of doing this. But inexpensive sensors of the type likely to be deployed on farms to count numbers of animal species, like audio recorders and digital measuring devices such as camera traps and mobile apps can lack credibility as comparable, trustable data sources. This is because there are no consistent or standardised processes for authenticating, calibrating, and validating them, or for guaranteeing their cybersecurity. This is compounded when each device manufacturer has differing methods and bespoke measurement units.

What is decision-grade data?

Nature-based solutions projects arising from the restoration of natural assets are now increasingly recognised as environmental opportunities which can attract public payments and private investment. The finance sector has called for decision-grade, asset level data about nature projects in order to facilitate their investment decisions and reporting to investors.

Why might farms need decision grade data?

Without high quality trustable digital data, public and private sector investors in nature uplift projects could demand more expensive or time-intensive manual survey methods to demonstrate improvement. This can make projects financially non-viable for farmers and land managers.

Are farms already collecting it?

Lauriston Farm in Edinburgh is. SRUC researchers have made this 22 minute documentary with the team, providing a case study which explains why it is useful to invest in data collection to establish baselines, and prove changes through time. In it, the Lauriston Farm team and their investor Federated Hermes Ltd., discuss how they are collecting decision grade data to prove the social, economic and environmental impacts of their regenerative agriculture and community engagement practices. Some data collection is being done with nature tech.

How do I get started with nature tech?

  1. Decide to develop a nature improvement project.
  2. Plan what you’d need to measure to show improvement, and ask what data funders and investors want to see.
  3. Investigate if nature tech could do the measurements more cheaply and trustably than manual methods.
  4. If it can, buy the tech, then set it up, calibrate it and deploy it securely and trustably.


Find out more at


Sign up to the FAS newsletter

Receive updates on news, events and publications from Scotland’s Farm Advisory Service